Narcotics: Pit of Despair (Part I)
Tells the story of a boy from a good home who begins using narcotics 'JUST FOR KICKS' and later becomes addicted to the point where he is dropped out of school and eventually arrested.
One of the definitive drug films of the sixties, Pit of Despair was well known to high school A-V squads. By now, we've seen and heard most of the anti-drug clichs, but it's still a surprise to find so many encapsulated into a single film.
Ken Smith remarks: It's a fat field, but this is the quintessential drug film. "peddlers of misery who prey on the unwary, the uninformed, the curious, the thrillseekers. Most young people will continue through life as normal, responsible citizens. Others -- the shunted and unloved, the unguided, the seekers of thrills and kicks, will become candidates for the slave world of life-long drug addiction. But no one is immune." "The formula is generally the same. Take a life of responsibility, the inability to make right choices, add to it ignorance and indifference, and top it off with a desire for escapism and kicks. The sum total is then conceivably found in the bennies, the reefer, the pot needle." "too busy with his girl, his car, his sports" sandy-haired and snaggle-toothed, John drives a snazzy british sports car; Pete is a bearded groovester who wears a ribbed turtleneck with a zippered front "...pep himself up on bennies. He's handled them before and he knows where to draw the line." "a private party...plenty of fun and laughs." "take a break from the books and live a little" "the responsibilities of growing up" "strongly etched in his character" are "the practice of putting things off, making excuses, shirking unpleasent tasks" decides to "join the party" groovy Farfisa organ Zombies music "John doesn't realize it, but he's just been cast as the star fall-guy in a real-life tragedy" narrator as nagging bad conscience; can say things no actor would; Helen flutters her false eyelashes, thrusts forward her large breasts, and lures John into the web; handheld party camera work "The exhertion of the dance, the excitement of Helen and several beers have taken effect. Inhibition and caution are forgotten. When Helen suggests they have a few more beers, he's all for it. Why not? Everyone else is doing it. To refuse would be 'square.' Besides, he's never been high on it before. And he never will. He can handle the stuff." "under the influence of the beer" she's a "hype" with a police record, "the swinger," "the hip chick of the gang" the garage is where "some of the gang are really blasting" "that's where the real action is" "Come on and take a look. Take a trip from 'Squaresville'. Live a little." "Why not? It can't do any harm to -- look." "the trippers, the grasshoppers, the hip ones" "flying high as a kite" in "their phony world of kicks" "Forget it, man, and get with the countdown. Shake this square world and blast off for Kicksville." "the feeling of 'putting one over'" "individuality, willpower, character are slipping down the drain" "the old behavior habits and excuses" "a few harmless puffs -- just to see what it's like" "Drag it, man! Try anything once! Fly! You can't get a habit from weed!" "John surrenders his dignity and lays his future on the chopping block" "Now he's too involved to think. He's having KICKS. He's away and flying. Up, up, out of this world."
"But everything that goes up must come down." "escape from the troubles he brings on himself" "he's become psychologically dependent" "He thinks only a pal can help. Help split this square world." "Psychologically he's ready to make the 'big scene'. Caution, intelligence, normal defenses go up in pot smoke." "his confused brain" "the real blast" "living hell" "venom" "Of every thousand hypes who ride the toboggan to hell, only a few ever get off." "John isn't afraid, and he ceratinly isn't 'square'." "Sweat it out, pal. You wanted kicks. Now pay the price." "At first it seemed like such harmless fun. It was hip to go along with the gang. But where's the gang now?" (and where are his parents?) "Too late he realizes that by joining to belong, he's more alone than ever." Whowho-whoooooooahhhhhhhguhguhguggggg! "The agony will reach it's peak in 36 to 72 hours and continue for two more weeks." "Cool it. Cut it. Strangle it. In the jungle land of narcotics, it's fight, claw, kill, and every man for himself." steals his mom's "best silverware" "no one must ever know he's a hopeless junkie" "shame" "stigma" suit-wearing cops burst in and arrest "another small tentacle of the drug octopus is cut off" "with a police record to haunt him as long as he lives" (fair?) "the very best treatment modern science can give" "I wonder if Pete and Hank are out of prison yet? Won't do any harm to just stop by and say hello...." There is NO END.
12:16:43 CU cobra snake
12:18:01 VS of students outside school campus
12:20:05 CU man (at running track) reflectively looking TO: great zoom in on bearded guy behind fence
12:23:26 overhead shot of party with streamers, balloons and people dancing TO: various CU shots of people euphorically dancing
12:27:51 LS of people getting high
12:31:39 MS male student in classroom receiving a 'D' on test
12:31:55 MLS from above and through fence of 2 men in 'drug deal'
12:32:31 CU 2 men in car smoking marijuana
12:32:22 LS man intoxicated stumbling into 3 women and negotiating crosswalk awkwardly
12:32:31 MS from below of looking up at man in delirium looking down at off screen space, the curb
12:33:35 CU 2 men rolling marijuana cigarettes
12:34:42 CU of man's hands preparing heroin needle
12:37:00 MS man shooting up heroin to CU
12:39:31 MS man having heroin withdrawal DT's
12:40:50 MS man shooting up man with DT's zoom in to XCU of arm and syringe shooting heroin
12:42:15 LS man entering 'pawn shop' - sign visible
12:42:39 LS policeman entering 'police department'
12:43:35 LS drug bust 2 police officers, 3 drug offenders
12:43:45 LS man in prison, MS guard opens jail door
DRUGS NARCOTIC ADDICT HOSPITAL MARIJUANA HEROIN PUSHER HIGH SCHOOL TEENAGE Danger Lurks
Subject: Check out this video edited
Great music using this film.
Subject: Only "Squares" get hooked...
Subject: Wonder how many watched this high.
Subject: PIT OF DESPAIR
Subject: this is not good, its GREAT !
i watched it on a saturday evening with some friends and we laughed our pants off.
john uses barbiturates to "pep him up": how ironic.
the first time when we meet pete, the zoom-in is fantastic and well, quite trippy.
the party scene is "swinging" "shake this square world and blast of for kicksville!" HELL YEAH!
"due to the effects of the late hours and the alcohol, john was too sick to study" (after the pot smoking scene) They don't mention the fact that he smoked pot!
also: the music in this film absolutely rules!
i find this the "reefer madness" fim-type of the sixties, really i thought those narc guys knew the difference between stimulating drugs (amfetamines) and barbiturates !-) also, pete's haircut is too ridiculous for words ... looks like lincoln or something .
Subject: Not necessarily stoned... but beautiful.
Subject: Before ringers lactate there was bennies and heroin
Subject: Retro Report
Subject: Tragic Animals
There are some interesting animal motifs, from the opening shot of the cobra representing, one must suppose, drug addiction. Furtive and beady-eyed, the pot smokers are depicted as ratlike vermin that dwell in garages. On the other hand, partygoers presumably high on something twitch and gyrate in a decidedly simian fashion. The pusher's goat-like semblance, however signifies more sinister designs.
Typical of the "don't let this happen to you" film, it unleashes as many punishments upon the damned as possible, as redemption is not an option. Also typically symbolic of spirit having fallen fully back into nature, the protagonist is inexorably fated to a disruption of his basic survival instincts while at the same time fully enslaved within them. However fateful tragedy and morality-play cannot be reconciled: hope for those in the midst of addiction is cast off in favor of intensifying the threat to those merely on the brink.
While we don't know how unintentionally funny the actual dialogue in the film might have been, the stiff, authoritative voiceover narration is downright hilarious. Hearing "...and blast off to Kicksville" and "...riding the toboggan to Hell" spill out of his mouth is painfully absurd and side-splitting at the same time.
Subject: Shake this square world and blast off for Kicksville!
One joint and you're hooked? Shit, the first time I smoked I didn't even get high!
Judging from the scenes of this losers life he needs drugs!
Subject: Reefer Madness with needles
I'm amazed at some of the footage (espeically the herion scenes where it would seem they really did inject themselves with some type of fluid. I can't imagine they had any type of special effects back then.
Subject: Narcotics: Pit of Despair (Full Film)
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Mental Hygiene.